International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, called by the United Nations General Assembly, dates back to December 1994. Let’s review together the reasons that make August 9 the celebration to remember the rights and equality of all peoples.

Indigenous peoples and climate change

Not only civil rights, but also climatic rights. 38 years have passed since the first meeting of the UN working groups in 1982. Since then, the attention of indigenous peoples has been constant. In spite of everything, it is not enough to solve such an atavistic and multifaceted problematic issue. In addition to claiming their rights, numerous populations also need to be protected from an environmental point of view. A few examples? The great Northern Forest and the Pacific islands both experience what happens in the Arctic Circle. The melting of glaciers, in fact, is gradually leading to a constant rise in the water level.

From climate change to agribusiness

Precisely for this reason, the peoples who have lived for generations within these areas suffer the damage caused by this increase in their territories. The sea level, which has gradually risen over the years, is currently leading to flooding the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Needless to say, all this is reflected in the territory and the populations that inhabit it. Unfortunately, indigenous peoples are deprived of their land both by the natural effects and by the effects of agribusiness. One of the latest reports from Global Witness, in fact, highlights how numerous populations have been victims of violence by the extractive industry.

Indigenous peoples: what rights?

In 2018, for example, 164 indigenous activists were killed. Their goal was simply to prevent their Northern Forest families from being driven out of their residences because of deforestation. The large multinationals of the extractive industry, in fact, are used to razing entire forests to the ground in order to make room for monocultures. The latter, in particular, are used both for the production of biofuels and for the construction of hydroelectric plants. Fortunately, both governments and the UN recognize the right to land. Yet it seems that all this is not enough. Just think that the Sami people, in their indigenous culture, are based on the free use of their natural resources.

An environmentally friendly Earth

In fact, water and earth are available for everyone. The dramatic problem of all this lies in the inability to curb both the abuses of the extractive industry and the advance of the climatic emergency. Meanwhile, indigenous peoples are seeing their rights and land reduced. Remembering the rights of indigenous peoples is not enough. It is essential, however, to live following a lifestyle that respects Nature and the world around us. As “modern dreamers”, in fact, we can serve as an example for many others. For the rights of indigenous peoples to be respected, the UN is not enough. We also need our help every day, not only on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.